Abilene Police Department Detective Elise Ybarra died and two other APD detectives were injured early Sunday evening in a two-vehicle collision on Interstate 20 between Abilene and Clyde.
Ybarra, 33, sworn in as an APD officer in November 2014, died at the scene. She was the driver of the vehicle.
Injured were Chris Milliorn and Robert Collins. Both were taken to Hendrick Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.
All three were members of the APD's special victims unit.
"This loss impacts everybody. I can't imagine what these families will have to go through," APD Chief Stan Standridge said a new conference later Sunday evening, about three hours after the crash occurred. Standridge emphasized Ybarra died in the line of duty, the seventh such death in APD history.
"It is my hope Elise's death awakens the heart of this city," he said.
According to police, the three detectives were traveling to Dallas to attend a Crimes Against Children Conference. Their unmarked vehicle was traveling in slow traffic near the scene of another crash when it was struck by a pickup truck.
There was no report on the condition of the pickup driver, nor how many other occupants were in the vehicle.
Ybarra started her law enforcement career with the Sedalia (Missouri) Police Department, joining APD on June 2, 2014. She attended the APD's academy and was sworn in Nov. 21, 2014.
"She cared enough about our city that she went through our academy," Standridge said. "She is a person who landed with both feet firmly planted in this department."
She worked as a patrol officer for two years before transferring to the special victim's unit as a child abuse investigator Dec. 14, 2016.
The unit was created in 2010-2011, he said, to address the prevalence of child and domestic abuse in Abilene. Ybarra was one of seven SVU detectives, and was equipped to do a difficult job.
"You can't just pull someone off (another duty) and assign them to this unit," he said. "They are hugely busy."
The unit as well as Child Protective Services "is going to feel the loss of Elise."
City Manager Robert Hanna, who joined Standridge at the media conference, said Ybarra's name is added to the city's roll of honor, and that she served with "honor and integrity."
"There is never a good reason why these things happen," he said.
He said there is no doubt that the Sedalia PD also is "mourning the loss of a family member."
"We have buried too many officers even since I've been police chief," he said. That list includes motorcycle officer Rodney Holder in April 2010.
Also speaking was Churck Farina, a local minister and member of the 1 Kingdom organization. He represented the spiritual community of Abilene.
Farina called for Abilene to unity in the tragedy and to "stand with this family."
She is survived by her husband of eight years, Adam, and the couple's 10-month-old daughter.
Adam Ybarra is director of sports medicine at Abilene Christian University. He was named to his current position in the summer of 2013, according to ACU website.
Standridge said the Ybarra family "will have many needs moving forward."
Visibly moved by announcing the detective's death, Standridge said that crash coming on the heels on two recent homicides and the ongoing investigation of a real estate agent's death in December has kept his department "hugely, hugely busy ... it seems like it has been forever."
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